Horse Riding Titumate to Balboa
At Colombia Paddlers we love exploring so this week we headed off to the Caribbean coastline and border between Colombia and Panama to plan our next set of adventures but also to seal a new partnership.
We left Medellin early morning so to arrive at the coastal town of Turbo with plenty of time to seek out our requirements but also to arrive in plenty of time for our 10:30am crossing. Upon arrival we learned our boat had departed an hour and a half earlier than schedule and also that they now have changed their program from high season to low season even after a phone call two days prior to confirm all departure times in the day! After a delightful conversation we were told the next boat would leave around 2:30pm so we headed off to explore even more of Turbo with the extra five hours we were gifted with.
We arrived back at the waffel and boarded the boat and headed off. Or so we thought! We got around the corner only for there to be a fault with the engines so we had to return to port and were informed that’s it for today no more boats going. Apparently there is no movements after 4pm as its deemed too dangerous with the choppy waters and looming sun set. We were told to be back at 5am the following day. So off to our hotel we headed and more sightseeing of Turbo.
The following morning we arrived at 5am followed by the other passengers. At 6:30am we had boarded and left much to everyone’s frustrations and relief. Ten minutes into our trip and we stopped off at what is a platform at the end of a pier with a military guy and a person from the coastguard of Colombia and in what looked like a train ticket booth where the captain handed over his documents and boat paperwork to which he received some paper and we left.
We headed off finally to start our trip and what was nice calm sea until about a third of the way when the ocean state changed and those that had them placed some form of waterproof on from a bin liner to proper ponchos. As the boat went forward we could observe how the ocean turned from dark blueish color to a light brownish sandy mix making the diverse scene sky and sea one pictorial unique view. We were hit with a nice downpour which was thick and fast. Looking over to our left the landscape was incredible and so mysterious looking with the low clouds and jungle running into the hills in the backgrounds. To us it looked like a scene from Jurassic park the island, untouched and mysterious!
The rain eased up to a drizzle and the waves calmed down. As we approached the jetty in Titumate the heavens opened up again and everyone was running from the boat for cover and here they waited for their transport to take them to the next village. We grabbed a coffee from the local tienda whilst those locals around us sharpened their machetes and when their truck came they went running for it whilst trying not to get too wet.
We crossed over the dirt road to our hotel that we were supposed to have slept at last night introduced ourselves as Colombia Paddlers to the owners assistant and waited out for our guide to show up with our horses. Carlos turned up and we slung our backpacks on and got familiar with our mules then headed off toward Balboa.
Our plan was to follow the dirt road a few kilometers so we could get used to riding mules as they are very stubborn and for us very much different to riding horses. We were told to try these as the places we wanted to cover this week from coastline, jungle and mountain terrain a horse would be very tired compared to mules. For me at first trying to get my mule to move was harder than pushing a car uphill. Stubborn was an understatement anyway Carlos came over and between us we got him moving. We got about half an hour into our trip when we saw a cow giving birth to two young. What a sight to see the mother licking the goo of the first calf whilst the second was popping out. After witnessing this natural process and a few photos later we continued off onto our journey.
We had prior arranged and got permission to go visit a local indigenous tribe living on land given to them by the government along with a brick building complete with internet which was the school. The tribes had various traditional huts built on stilts. We waded across the river on our mules and into the reserve where we dismounted at the base of one of these round raised homes. We were invited into their home where the small children were giggling and showing us what they had made. After introductions and giving the children some sweets we were shown the hand crafted jewelry and flowers made out of cardboard and a branch placed in a plastic water bottle. I told them i was from England to which a shout of you can find me a good husband then followed.
After a while we mounted up and continued through the village, past the school where a class was being given and onto our next river crossing. It was so peaceful and charming and just hearing all the different wonderful sounds of the creatures around us and seeing so many different birds. We went over flat landscape as far as the eye could see but so clean and fresh and into rivers up to the mules waists. The best and most challenging was the last river which took a couple of minutes to cross and got us wet up to our knees and above the horses waist. Just as well our mules were sure footed as I did not fancy a swim even though the water was so cool and refreshing what with the sun beating down on us. We were very lucky as the weather changed between hot sun to light drizzles which helped cool you down.
We finally arrived into the small pueblo Balboa where the towns roads were all dirt or gravel and the park looked very western movie with horses tied up all around the local shops. We finally came to a stop at the place where we would be having our next three meals. We dismounted and went in for lunch which was a sancocho and a meal with meat, rice and a salad. As we were finishing up they asked what we would like for tea so we replied chicken fillet and chips. Five minutes later our host comes walking by with a big white chicken in her hands and disappears around the corner and reappears with a lifeless chicken to which she starts preparing for our evening meal. After our lovely meal we walked a short distance to our very self styled basic hotel. Here the owner showed us around and then gave us our rooms.
We got changed and walked the few yards to the locally made tamales where two youths were chilling out. We stopped for a quick chat and went on down to the river. Here we chilled out for a while then decided to try our luck at a spot of fishing so rushed back to our room and grabbed our basic fishing gear and set up in record time and cast our lines. We took it in turns to go hunt worms and only came back with a small handful. It was frustrating to see plenty of fish jumping and feeding but not biting on our bait. It was now approaching 6pm and getting dark so we packed up and set off back to our rooms to freshen up before walking back to the house where our evening meal was to be along with our super freshly killed chicken. After a chicken soup and rather large platter of chicken and chips we waddled off back to our hotel whilst trying to avoid the frogs bigger than our hands that were everywhere and via a shop to purchase some drinks for tomorrows stretch.
To summarize this phase it took us 1.5hrs to cross from Turbo to Titumate. Horse riding was 4.5 hours. Rivers crossed was five. Group size four. Marriage offers 1